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Social Media and Employees: Keeping Control, Preventing Disasters

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In our previous post we saw how employees’ misuse of social media can have devastating consequences for employers.  Like it or not, though, social media isn’t going away, and employees have access to all kinds of online channels in their personal lives. How, then, can you maintain some degree of control over how your people use social media without infringing on their rights as citizens? Let’s look at your options.

First, are you government or private sector? The Fourth Amendment prohibits governmental bodies from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures, and this prohibition may include monitored communications. Private companies, however, have some wiggle room here depending on state laws and the level of monitoring performed. Most private-sector cases hinge on whether the employee’s “reasonable expectation of privacy” has been violated, and if the employee was using company servers or bandwidth, then monitoring those resources may fall under the scope of normal business procedures.

What can you do to help prevent that social media from turning anti-social?

Have a company policy. You can shape it to suit your industry and expectations, but have it written down and make sure all employees read it, understand it and agree to it in writing as one of the conditions for employment. Employees must understand the potential consequences of distributing confidential information, defamation of the company or its staff and other harmful communications as defined by you. They should also understand the limits of their workplace privacy.

Insist on authorization. Make sure your employees know that they can speak about your company through social media channels only if they identify themselves as company employees, making to clear to readers that their comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of their employers.

We know it’s a complex topic. Contact us if you’d like to know more.

Dan Hettrich is the director of sales at Acadia HR located in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at or 512-745-2985.


Written by Dan Hettrich

April 20, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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